Mississippi Public Universities
2006 Technology Winners
First Place: University of Mississippi
"Graduate Admissions Workflow with Digital Imaging"
The University of Mississippi Office of Information Technology and Graduate School worked collaboratively to transform the graduate application process by means of electronic workflow and digital imaging. Applicants to the Graduate School apply online and pay a processing fee with real-time credit card authorization. When an applicant presses submit, a workflow is started. Each application is routed electronically to one of forty-five different academic departments based on the applicant's desired program of study. Before the implementation of a digital imaging system, the paper documents that supported the application, such as transcripts and letters of recommendation, were photocopied and delivered through campus mail to forty-five departmental offices. In the new process, a graduate school employee scans these documents, and they are automatically added to the digital imaging system and associated with the student in SAP. These documents and related applicant information, such as contact information and test scores, are immediately available through a protected Web interface to graduate program coordinators who make recommendations online. The new process allows graduate coordinators to generate applicant data spreadsheets with hyperlinks to the scanned documents, which facilitate graduate faculty committee evaluations and recommendations. The system allows graduate coordinators to print PDF summaries of applicant data and email sets of applicants in one group to remind them of deadlines or special events. Additional online recommendation forms have been streamlined to facilitate fast data entry. Finally, the process allows applicants to view the status of their application at any point in the process.
Second Place: Mississippi State University
"Mississippi State University Extension Service Distance Education Network"
The Mississippi State University Extension Service, with the help of county Extension personnel and county Boards of Supervisors, has developed the Distance Education Network, which utilizes the latest technology and teaching techniques to deliver services to individuals at all socio-economic levels. Videoconference sites have been strategically located in 16 counties throughout the state so that all stakeholders can reach a site within 30 minutes. Five of these sites are full presentation sites, while the others are portable units that can be moved to various rooms within the county Extension office as needed. In addition, two full classrooms were completed at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi along with a classroom and an auditorium at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. Sixty-six small-group systems have been installed throughout the state, thus meeting the goal to have videoconferencing capabilities in all 82 counties. Through negotiations with telecommunication companies and county Boards of Supervisors, T1 lines are now operable in every county, providing the high speed connection necessary for videoconferencing. With the infrastructure in place, the Extension Service installed the videoconferencing system and provides ongoing training and support for the program. To date in 2006, nearly 600 videoconferences have been held. The program has allowed MSU-ES to work more effectively with other organizations, such as Farm Bureau and Rural Development. The system is used for Freedom Calls to allow servicemen and women in Iraq to communicate with their families over an interactive video system. And the system allows clients, such as the rural Mississippi beef farmer, to learn from top specialists in a given field regardless of their location. Mississippi State is doing its part to bring Mississippians together and move the state forward through education.